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All Saints: The Video (1998 Video)
8/10
A Must for All Saints Fans
26 April 1999
In the world of music videos, it takes something more original than a band jumping and screaming in time to their songs to stand out as an outstanding piece of watchable film. Despite avoiding the abstraction of Radiohead, All Saints tread the path of jazzy, funky videos, spliced with interviews with the girls themselves and live footage of their travels around the world.

This may not sound like much in theory, but for anyone who is an admirer of Natalie, Nic, Mel or Shaznay; or just a fan of their music, this is essential. Kick-starting with "I Know Where It's At" - a cracking opener, with Saints acting up to the camera, it's catchy, sexy and superb in all respects. "Let's Get Started" falls into a similar vein, mainlining the grooves home, demonstrating the same cool, yet open feel to the music; this ranks as a particular favourite on the video. "The Bridge" is the centrepiece though, combining "Lady Marmalade" and "Under the Bridge", it's a contrast - the party hard, die young atmosphere of L.M, to the ultimate party hangover meets Fifth Element visuals for U.t.B. And the American video for "Never Ever" is a treat.

Maybe we could have done with less of the live clips, which sometimes spoil the flow of the piece, but this is a minor point in terms of the quality of this video. No matter who's your favourite All Saint, there is something for all. And you too will know where it's at.
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9/10
Eighties Great; Nineties Classic
10 February 1999
In a rush of eighties nostalgia movies (Romy and Michelle's High School reunion, and the superb Wedding Singer), "Grosse Pointe Blank" spins a shadowy web around the visage of remembering the good old days by chucking in the hitman theme into the melting pot. John Cusack plays Martin Blank, the aforementioned hitman who on the recommendation of his therapist (Alan Arkin on top form) goes home to Grosse Pointe to reminisce, talk to old friends, meet his high-school girlfriend (Minnie Driver) and, oh, the small matter of performing a hit. The film boasts a whole host of characters, funny and amusing (Dan Ackroyd tops the list as Blank's rival who's setting up an assassin's union), and Driver and Cusack sizzle. In all, this is set to becoming, in my opinion, a modern classic in the late nineties. Enjoy the eighties again, enjoy this film.
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A Bug's Life (1998)
Fun, but no wit or style
7 February 1999
A battle is being waged on the frontier of technology. Oh yes, the computer generated film swing is in full effect, bringing the joys and ecstacy of worlds fantastic. But why oh why must script and story suffer at the hands of silicon?

"A Bug's Life" is a simple tale of Flik, an ant with a passion for invention. Obviously this makes him a hit with his fellow colonists, who fear new ways, and therefore dismiss the ideas as sheer madness. And following a diastrous incident involving the fearsome grasshoppers, Flik is sent to find help in defending the ants against the grasshoppers when they return for their offering. And instead of warriors, he finds and recruits a group of recently fired circus acts, including a caterpillar who can't wait to be a butterfly, a labybird who is often mistaken for a girl, and a pair of woodlouse who speak not a word of English. And so, Flik returns with the troop to fight the enemy. Of course, nothing runs smoothly, and with the Princess Atta on the watch, it's gonna be tough.

"A Bug's Life" is by no means a bad film: there's plenty to keep the kids entertained, and it's fun to watch as the story unfolds. But where's the humour we came to expect from the likes of "Toy Story" or the similarly themed "Antz"? The script is predictable and bland with no twists. And the characters remain two dimensional in their 3D universe. Fun for kids, but little of interest for those who relished the multi-layed humour of "Toy Story".
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Nicholson Schtick Drives Home
3 February 1999
In the sociologists view, we - perhaps - live in morally ambiguous times. Less self control, more is accepted within society. Things are bleak. Now, imagine a disease-ridden carcass of all that is grim, dark and sadistic. Imagine it being captured in a celuloid cell, and the prisoner name is "Very Bad Things".

Starting on the plain of innocence: Laura (Cameron Diaz) and Kyle (Jon Favreau) making sure all the checks have been handled and sent. The road to bliss awaits - right? WRONG! The bachelor party is calling from the depths of Hell, and it's all arranged by real-estate agent-cum-psycho Robert Boyd (Christian Slater). Along with friends Adam (Stern), Charles (Orser) and Michael (Piven), the party hard philosophy is in full effect. Gambling, drink, cocaine, room-trashing, and the small matter of a dead prostitute in the bathroom. And once Boyd stabs a security guard with a corkscrew, events come to a head. Paranoia sets into the gang once the bodies are buried and Boyd is willing to bury anyone who may jump ship and tell the police.

The hysteria that is the backbone to the piece spreads like a virus to the audience, with Stern capturing the fear aspect head-on. Slater's Nicholson-style escapades are superb, but nothing new; whilst Diaz holds all the surprises, playing the flipside of new character in "My Best Friend's Wedding". The script is fast, loud and at times grating. But some scenes hit those furious home runs: the bachelor party is fantastic (Slater talking about Self-Actualisation); and the grave digging scene is a scream. Simply put - nothing remarkably new, but damn good black humour. There may be no good in the film, but there certainly is no bad.
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Very Bad Film? I think not.....
31 January 1999
For such grisly and disturbing events, "Very Bad Things" seems to conjure up humour in all these elements. Centring around the imminent marriage of Laura and Kyle, the bliss degenerates into murder every which way following a freak accident on the stag night. Slowly, certain members of the group crack up, freak out or overreact. Surprisingly, despite the horror of the situation the comedy comes through, making this an enjoyable, highly watchable black comedy.
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Far Too Lightweight to be Magical
28 January 1999
What a novel concept! - a film that has no idea what it's supposed to be. Practical Magic sells itself as a romantic comedy, but isn't funny enough; includes dramatic Thelma and Louise style elements, but the material and acting isn't heavy enough; and features the undead, but isn't scary. What is going on! Bullock and Kidman are the only attraction of this mish-mash of a motion picture, and work as best they can with the material, especially Kidman using the whole range for an exorcism scene. But Aidan Quinn is wasted as Bullock's love interest, sparking zero chemistry. It's a shame that stellar casts with a solid track record (well, except for Bullock. Speed 2 anyone?) that a film fails to ride high on its magic broom. This film isn't bad, but aside from the leads, there's little to sink your teeth into.
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The Perfect Day
28 January 1999
In terms of events, a day off for just about anyone is a welcome break - an oasis of freedom in this mad-cap world. As Ferris puts it: "Life moves fast - if you don't stop to look around, you might just miss it." And this is where "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" succeeds. The premise is simple: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) decides to skip school and heads for downtown Chicago. With girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and Cameron (Alan Ruck)in tow, the trio travel to art galleries, restaurants and even view a carnival. But Principal Ed Rooney is in pursuit of evidence to prove Bueller has been skipping class and therefore can hold him back a year. Hence follows a collection of superb slap-stick incidents and other visual and dialogue gags. This is a top class, feel good movie. Watch it with a smile from ear to ear.
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Bulworth (1998)
White Ghetto Superstar? Oh yes...
24 January 1999
It could have been a marriage made in hell: Warren Beatty, actor/director veteran, rapping and dancing to hip hop records. A vain attempt to cling to his youth some may say. But "Bulworth" is a razor sharp satire of the highest political order; and, for a mainstream film, is smart, funny, and seriously strange. The film opens with Senator Bulworth(Beatty) watching his own political broadcasts, and is on the verge of breakdown, having not slept or eaten for days. As the primaries close in, he hires a hitman to assassinate him. Realising nothing matters he begins to tell the truth, saying to an all Black congregation that the Democratic Party doesn't care about the African American vote, as they contribute no money to the campaign. Soon enough, he regains his lust for life, and through the Halle Berry's character, his lust for sex too; and decides to call off the hitman. The attempts to do this result in farce, and as his advisors despair, his popularity soars. Shame all political runners aren't like Bulworth. Maybe not, but it's a nice thought. The film is hilarious as Bulworth gets to grips with Ghetto culture, with sharp dialogue and some bizarre moments - including a scene where gang leader LD (Don Cheadle) explains the logistics of why children should sell crack. But the underlying seriousness is never to far from the surface. This is film-making at a high level.
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PC Views Take A Back Seat
22 January 1999
For many films the boundaries of political correctness are, like the streams in "Ghostbusters", never crossed. But "The Opposite of Sex" not only crosses the line, but stomps all over them. Christina Ricci plays Deedee: a vicious hybrid cross between Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, and all bitchy female leads from the dawn of cinema. She makes no illusion on who she is - "I don't have a heart of gold; and I don't grow one later okay" and is the narrator of her own story. After leaving home following the funeral of her step-father, Deedee visits her gay half brother Bill (Martin Donovan), and his live-in boyfriend. Deedee subsequently seduces the lover, and steals $10,000 from Bill and the ashes of a past love. He then purses Deedee across the country with the dead man's sister (a neurotic Lisa Kudrow), with the local Sheriff Carl (Lyle Lovett) in hot pursuit to woo Kudrow. The combination of characters with their own flaws and trates is held perfectly by Don Roos tightly weaved direction and writing. Ricci is a star in the making, with caustic one liners and a sexy image to boot, making her character disturbing, yet likable. Donovan and Kudrow both add great touches to the piece, but this is definitly Ricci's show. A fantastically uncompromising comedy that pulls no punches and has several twists along the stories road.
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8/10
Zucker Brothers hit Comedy Bullseye; Film at Eleven
19 January 1999
In 1977, before the fantastic "Animal House", director John Landis teamed up with Jerry and David Zucker (creators of "Airplane") and the result was this. The Kentucky Fried Movie is simply a movie based on a collection of skits of American TV culture. Everything from morning shows, board games, and even the film industry itself are made fun of in just under 90 minutes of hilarious sketches and episodes. A natural break occurs around half time for the feature presentation - "A Fistful of Yen", a spoof of the Bruce Lee classic "Enter the Dragon", with some of the most outrageous kung fu action ever. It remains a mystery how stars such as Donald Sutherland, Bill Bixby and Henry Gibson were convinced in such a surreal film, but who cares? This is the Zucker brothers at the highest comedy point. Such taboo topics such as masturbation, sex, animal cruelty and violence are all used to wonderful bad taste, so those of a sensitive nature may wish to avoid this. But those who haven't yet donated their funny bone to the local dog pound are set for a belly-laugh-a-minute roller-coaster ride through TV-dom of the 70's.
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Psycho (1998)
An Introduction to a New Generation
12 January 1999
As the movie purists will have us believe, Psycho is a travesty that knows no bounds. But let us remind them that even Hitchcock's original masterpiece was considered terrible back in 1960. Vince Vaughan plays the Bates role well (how well I wouldn't want to say), with a manic laugh and menacing undertones. Even his attire suggests instability. Heche, playing the role Janet Leigh made famous, again tackles the character well, if a little blandly. But for me, it's Julianne Moore and William H. Macy who liven the picture. Moore, as the concerned sister of Heche is feisty and nosey, and looks gorgeous without the retro garb sported by much of the rest of the cast. Macy, watchable in Fargo and Boogie Nights makes a lasting impression as the private investigator also searching for Heche.

As for the film in general, the atmosphere is tense, uneasy. This is from someone who has not experienced the horror of the original, but it can only a good thing. Many of those who will watch the remake (aside from Vaughan fans) are generation of film-goers unfamiliar with the Anthony Perkins original, or even Hitchcock's other work. Maybe it's a travesty, maybe it should have been left untouched, and maybe Vaughan didn't need to be shown masturbating. And maybe the purists are right. But for the Hitchcock virgin, a remake is an accessible introduction to the man's work.
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